Originally Posted by Toolip
pretty sure it's a myth that is grows on metal...
Dormant tetanus spores from the soil can contaminate metal, splinters, thorns, etc., which can then get into a wound when you step on them or cut yourself with them. So tetanus doesn't grow on the metal, but the tetanus spores can be on the metal.
In some wounds, especially puncture wounds, the spores then release bacteria and grow, causing tetanus (lockjaw).
Can you wash them out? It likely depends on how deep the wound is. Nails and wires (like barb wire) are probably so good at causing tetanus because they don't leave much of a wound behind to clean.
FYI, rust on a nail has nothing to do with tetanus growing on it. If a nail is rusty, it may be older and be more likely to have tetanus spores on it, but you can get tetanus from a clean looking nail too.
Tetanus is rare in the US, although there are still cases. Here is a report that documents some cases in un-vaxed kids:
Philosophic Objection to Vaccination as a Risk for Tetanus Among Children Younger Than 15 Years
PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 1 January 2002, pp. e2
Conclusion. The majority of recent cases of tetanus among children in the United States were in unvaccinated children whose parents objected to vaccination.
The study described 15 cases, including 2 newborns who got tetanus on their umbilical stump (mom not vaccinated), and others who got it from:
- a bug bite on their leg
- stepping on a wire in a barn
- stepping on a thorn
- stepping on a stick
- puncture and abrasion on hand/foot
- kicked tree stump in yard
- splinter on bare foot
- stepped on a nail in a barn
- had concrete fall on elbow
- cut finger at home
Two kids who had been vaccinated and got tetanus (older teens) had much milder illnesses than the other kids.